April is the Month of the Military Child.

What an amazing thing that this country sees fit to establish such a month and that organizations find ways to honor all of those wonderful, silly, smart, enthusiastic, talented and caring military children. But maybe we have an obligation, too. Maybe that obligation is also to set an example.

People tell me that I write articles that sound “just like Suzie.” Now, I am not really sure what that means — it could be complimentary or it could be a scathing critique and I don’t even realize it. Honesty comes naturally to me, but I’m not sure why or where I developed that trait. It could have come from growing up in a family that believed in honoring and respecting others, no matter what their beliefs.

Many of you know that I am the child of a military family. When you live on or around a military installation, you may attend services at the Base or Post Chapel. I promise all of you that I did not really understand that there were actually many different religions that all shared the same chapel until I moved to Jacksonville, Arkansas, and saw MANY different forms of worship. Now, I am not a deeply religion person, but I use this example to make a point: I grew up believing tolerance of others was the best way to get along in this world. Social media does not give us the right to lose those principles of tolerance and should not be used to bully others if they do not have the same views.

Today was my day to read through many applications for the Military Child of the Year®, sponsored by Operation Homefront. This is the third year that I have been a judge, and while it takes time to read through each child’s packet, it is a great way to spend several hours. I love to read the great things these young Americans are doing to make this world a better place. Their unselfishness and their unbelievable spirit of giving back is something that continues to inspire me and makes me strive to do better. But I noticed a new organization this year on many of the submissions – it was an anti-bullying group. Perhaps this has been around for years, but I do not remember this organization being listed on any Military Child of the Year® in previous years.

This made me think. I wrote last month about respecting others. Maybe a gift to all of our military children is the gift we give them of showing them how to be good adults. Now, I know that this is not the answer to all of the bullying issues in this world, but perhaps we can start with ourselves.

Our military community is full of loving and caring individuals with a truly patriotic spirit. The communities where we reside are also full of caring, patriotic people who want to support us. Let’s look for ways to thank them and to show them that we are much more the same than we are different. This is a great country, and we make it better when we support and honor each other. We honor our military children by setting a loving example for them to emulate. Let’s honor all of our children that way, too.

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